Scientific observation

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Scientific observation is used for testing the definite predictions of a scientific theory. If the observations disprove these predictions, the theory becomes falsified and consequently it should be modified or abandoned. This principle is often violated in postmodern science where observations are typically being replaced by the Logic of possibility or speculations running wild. It is also argued that science should always start from empirical observations. Conceived mathematical abstractions or biased a-priori assumptions usually lead to an effort to save fabricated theories with yet another ad-hoc arbitrary assumption, neither tested nor resting on Natural Laws at all, whenever new observations come up which do not agree with predictions. Such approach then tends to develop into pseudo-scientific myths or religious faith such as one of Stephen Hawking who believes he can read "the mind of God"[1][2] instead of following the Socratic principle and if applicable, acknowledge ignorance.[note 1] The cautious observer naturally examines other alternative explanations before accepting the proposition even as a working hypothesis.[3]

Quotes on Scientific Observation

  • I think it is very important—at least it was to me—that if you are going to teach people to make observations, you should show that something wonderful can come from them. I learned then what science was about: it was patience. If you looked, and you watched, and you paid attention, you got a great reward from it—although possibly not every time. As a result, when I became a more mature man, I would painstakingly, hour after hour, for years, work on problems—sometimes many years, sometimes shorter times; many of them failing, lots of stuff going into the wastebasket—but every once in a while there was the gold of a new understanding that I had learned to expect when I was a kid, the result of observation. For I did not learn that observation was not worthwhile. - Richard Feynmann [4]
  • Dirac once said: "That which is not observable does not exist."[5]


  1. cf. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Bible, Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)


  1. Universe, the cosmology quest. Floating World Films A Randall Meyers production. In association with Norsk Filmstudio AS and and NRK TV fakta. 20:20-22:44.
  2. Roger Caldwell (1995). Reading the Mind of God. Philosophy Now:Magazine of Ideas. “Stephen Hawking claims that with its arrival we could come to know “the mind of God””
  3. Edwin Hubble (1937). The Observational Approach to Cosmology. Oxford University Press.
  4. Richard Feynman. What is Science?. Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
  5. John Hartnett (2004). Quantized quasar redshifts in a creationist cosmology 109. Technical Journal (present-day Journal of Creation). Retrieved on 2012-1015.

See also